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Showing posts from June, 2010

A GARDEN PAELLA

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The hot weather has brought out the backwoodswoman in me, and for the last few days I've been enjoying a Ray Mears-type relationship with the barbecue. I do not need to don khaki clothing for this, nor erect a shelter, for I already have one, in the form of The Cabana (also known as the Loggia, Stable, Garden Hut Thing, Summerhouse etc). The Cabana, originally erected to house a hot tub and/or pizza oven, was built last summer, in pouring rain, by Hugh, a rather brawny and strangely philosophical brickie. I had about three days enjoying it before the weather turned and I had to wait almost a whole 'nother year go by before I could sit out in it again. Now it is resplendent with beaded curtains, a heater, iPod and speakers and basketwork bull's head a la Picasso. It's a pleasant place to enjoy a chilled glass of something as if affords a view back into the garden, towards the house. Occasionally, its serenity is disturbed by the rabbit, or cat, Lulu, who does amazing ju…

FOOD IMITATING LIFE....... or ART?

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THE BEST GARLIC SAUCE

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Not aioli. No, this is better (in my opinion) and healthier too as it does not contain eggs or that much olive oil. Taken from the first Moro cookbook, it's delicious with grilled meats and fish, or just smeared on a slab of good bread. Or, as I did earlier, licked from the bowl of the food-processor.

The garlic is poached in milk which gives it a wonderful sweet flavour, not at all strong.

For 4

3 garlic bulbs
enough milk to cover the garlic in a small pan
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2-3/4 tbsp sherry vinegar
sea salt & black pepper

Break up the garlic bulbs, discarding any woody roots. Put in a small pan, skins on, cover with milk and simmer until the garlic is soft. Drain away the milk, reserving 6 tablespoons, and pop out each clove of garlic into the bowl of a food-processor. Set the motor running, add the milk, olive oil, salt and pepper and sherry vinegar and blitz until you have a smooth puree. Check seasoning and serve. Keeps well in the fridge for a day or so.

ROCK SHANDY

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Another heatwave, and more warm summer evenings in the cabana (garden hut) to enjoy. When it's hot, I crave Greek salad, Tabbouleh, a smear of Tzatsiki or Taramasalata on pitta bread, long-marinaded meat cooked on the barbecue with a piquant dip. To go with the food that always speaks of the Mediterranean, a chilled glass of white wine or Prosecco is wonderful. But sometimes I don't want an alcoholic drink, so I turn to a fantastic non-alcoholic cocktail: Rock Shandy.

So called because it originated at the Blackrock Swimming Club of Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Rock Shandy has a number of variants. The one I know and like is half lemonade and half club soda with a dash of Angostura bitters, a slice of lemon, and lots of ice. It's delicious and refreshing. According to Wikipedia, this version is popular in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia. True Irish Rock Shandy is half lemonade and half fizzy orange juice. Yet another version is half lemonade and half ginger ale. It's a gre…

A SUNDAY FRY-UP

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Say the words "fry up" and one instantly imagines fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes, sausages, mushrooms.... the epitome of the "Full English" (breakfast). Jamie Oliver even devised a brilliant one-pan breakfast with all the above ingredients thrown in together to create a heart-attack special. Delicious - but to be eaten rarely.

My Sunday fry up was a bit different. First, it was not a breakfast dish: I'd had fried mushrooms and scrambled eggs for breakfast on toasted ciabatta, all washed down with a mug of redbush tea. I am economising at the moment, trying not to spend too much money on food each week, especially when both fridge and freezer are groaning with food following a recent delivery by Ocado. By being strict about not rushing off to Tesco or M&S when I need something, I find I cook more resourcefully. Today's lunch was the result of a bit of kitchen conjuring, and the memory of a tapas dish I regularly order at my local Bar Estilo.

Of course, frying…

CHEAT'S MANGO SORBET

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I am always on the look out for new or unusual ingredients, so when my local Tesco (a store which I shop in under duress: I don't like it, but it's ultra local and open late) started to stock Indian ingredients, I got quite excited. It's an indication of the demographic of where I live (a leafy, uber middle class suburb of SW London) that the local Tesco Metro stocks sun-dried, sun-blush and sun-drenched tomatoes, smoked paprika, preserved lemons, sprouted beans, goji berries (WTF?) and several shelves of genuine Indian products. Interestingly, the store continues to stock about 20 varieties of tinned tuna as well, which begs the question: is there really such a high demand for tinned tuna in Teddington? (answers on a postcard please).

When I spotted the large tin of mango pulp, with its garish Bollywood label, I knew I had to have it in my cupboard. Originally, I intended to make mango lassi with it, that lovely, creamy, sweet yoghurt drink which is often on the menu of yo…

A FRIDAY NIGHT SUPPER

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I apologise in advance: I forgot to photograph Friday's supper and by the time I remembered I meant to photograph the meal, we had greedily gobbled it all up, wiped our plates clean with homemade foccacia, and glugged several glasses of Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva. All that remained was an empty tagine, the bone from the lamb shoulder joint and some burnt on bits - not exactly photogenic, but certainly evidence of a meal enjoyed by all!

I have mentioned my good friend Nick before on this blog. He comes to supper most Fridays when I rise to the occasion and try to produce an interesting and delicious meal. Sometimes his wife Jacky comes as well, when she's not travelling. In fact, it was Jacky who suggested I start blogging about food.

Last Friday's supper was my take on a dish I had for lunch the previous Sunday at The Bull Inn, Wimborne St Giles (see earlier post In Praise of the Gastropub). I do like butter beans, and I really like slow-cooked lamb. How to combine the two? T…

CANAPES AND CONVERSATION

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It was my turn to host our bi-monthly bookclub meeting tonight. The bookclub, which was formed nearly five years ago, when my friend Cathy and I decided to "break away" from another club (where we got fed up with certain members texting each other across the sitting room and no one spending much time talking about books), comprises 11 enthusiastic readers, who are also keen foodies. The combination of books, conversation, wine and food seems just about perfect, and each meeting is an opportunity for the host to provide interesting canapes and nibbles to accompany the book talk. It got a bit out of hand for a while, when the food verged on the competitive and we started having a proper sit-down supper, which tended to preclude serious conversation about what we had read, so, as bossy Chairwoman, I suggested we revert to the canapes, and start a little earlier in the evening to give us plenty of discussion time.

I'm not terribly good at canapes: what I mean is that I don…

IN PRAISE OF THE GASTROPUB

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I have just returned from what can justifiably be described as a "slap-up lunch", at a country gastropub called The Bull at Wimborne St Giles, Dorset. This is the sister establishment of The Anchor at Shapwick (near Kingston Lacey), also in Dorset. Both are what I would call "finds". Dorset seems to be quite well off for interesting country pubs, which have been gentrified and gastro'd and turned into good places to eat for dinner or Sunday lunch. Both The Bull and The Anchor seem to have undergone their transformations fairly recently, for the paintwork (all muted Farrow & Ball colours) and interior decoration are new and fresh, understated and quietly stylish in the country style. Both places have spare interiors, scrubbed tables, fine linen napiery, and excellent menus.

It seems to me the main feature of the Gastropub is a menu offering robust, hearty dishes made with fresh ingredients, locally sourced. Often the menu will include traditional dishes with …

WORD CLOUD

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Demon Cook has been up and running for a few months now, so I decided to create a Word Cloud of the blog so far. Double-click on the image to have it displayed on its own screen.

You can see a gallery of others, and create your own, at http://www.wordle.net/